Thursday, May 31, 2007

This Weekend

SFCV didn't post new blurbs to the Listening Ahead column this week, and I didn't get to plug a couple of interesting performances you might want to see:
  • At the Hillside Club in Berkeley, the Presidio Ensemble is performing what looks like a totally kick-ass concert of Kagel, Biber, Ryther, Debussy, and Foote; the big piece on the concert is Debussy's String Quartet. Tickets are $15, one of the best concert buys around.

  • A new opera by Lisa Scola Prosek, Belfagor, premieres at San Francisco's Thick House, 1695-18th Street, Potrero Hill, SF, this weekend. It's based on a comic Machiavelli novella (!) and is directed in a commedia dell'arte style by Jim Cave. Phone (415) 401-8081 for tickets and more information.

Good News and Bad from SF Opera

The good stuff first:
  • The new Don Giovanni production will be simulcast to four locations on Friday, June 22, at 8 p.m. The announcement I have says that this is being done "In a partnership with UC Berkeley's Cal Performances, the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis, the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts in Santa Rosa, and San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts," so presumably those are the locations. Admission is free, but you need a ticket! More information here.

  • Some of the Adler fellows will perform in Civic Center Plaza at 4:40 pm on Saturday, June 23 during the San Francisco Pride events.
And the bad. I quote from email I received today:
A pilot program that features high-definition video viewing of close-up, mid-range and full stage ensemble shots of the performance on stage will be tested at every Don Giovanni performance this summer. Two 6' by 9' retractable screens, complete with supertitles, will be hung from the ceiling on both sides of the balcony, offering patrons in the Balcony Front level and above a whole new way to experience opera.

Hello, David Gockley! The opera house isn't a movie theater or an audience member's home. Putting movie screens in the balcony is likely to encourage talking during the performance and inattention to what's happening on stage. Yes, the stage is far away from the balcony, but somehow the balcony sells out anyway. Please take those screens away.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Film Scores

Terry Teachout ponders film scores and contemplates whether "any classic Hollywood comedy from the golden age [has] a great or even near-great musical score," a question asked by a reader. Alex Ross responds; both think no.

Carl Stalling, you guys. The great comic film scores are Looney Tunes, and I'm not talking about the Schoenberg, either.

Updates from Alex and Terry (at the original locations), and a question from Terry about Scott Bradley, whose work I evidently need to get to know. I have not seen a Tom & Jerry in decades.

I'm going to second their nomination of Korngold's score for The Adventures of Robin Hood as one of the great film scores, for one of the great films of the last century. It's an adventure film, true, but one with a smile and a laugh at its heart. I'd put it at least 50% in the realm of comedy.

Tim Hulsey and Marc Geelhoed have opinions on this subject too.

Monday, May 21, 2007

EMI Accepts Buyout Offer

Bad news? Good news? Will the buyer actually publish/reissue the material languishing in EMI's vaults?

Friday, May 18, 2007

Chora Nova, May 19

Chora Nova's last concert of the season is on Saturday, May 19. We're singing Handel's Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate, and Mozart's Vespers, K. 339. They are all wonderful pieces, and the soloists for this concert are fabulous.

Join us for the concert (and note which church we're in):

8 p.m.
First Presbyterian Church
Channing & Dana
Berkeley, CA


We had a change of venue - if you turn up at First Congregational, which is across the street, you'll be very surprised.

Hillside Club Tonight

The oddly-named piano and cello duo, martha and monica, will be playing at the Hillside Club in Berkeley tonight. (Why oddly? The two members are cellist Monica Scott and pianist Hadley McCarroll.) I have a dress rehearsal and can't go, but what a program they're playing. I quote directly from the Hillside Club's Web site:
A glimpse into the far-reaching influence of Antonin Dvorak on twentieth century Eastern European composers' music inspired by national pride while displaying deeply personal sentiments, this program offers fresh, innovative works by composers Peter Eotvos (Hungary), Vladimir Godar (Slovakia), Witold Lutoslawski (Poland), contrasted with sonatas and solos from the Czech Republic by Bohuslav Martinu and Leos Janacek.

Vladimír Godár - Sonata in Memory of Viktor Shklovsky (1985)
Leos Janácek - In the Mists (1912)
Peter Eötvös - Erdenklavier-Himmelklavier (2003)
Witold Lutoslawski - Sacher Variations for Violoncello Solo (1975)
Bohuslav Martinu - Sonata No. 1 for cello and piano (1939)
If you're free tonight, this concert is a big $15 in a great venue. The Hillside Club is at 2286 Cedar Street in Berkeley, and the concert's at 8 p.m.

Cranky, and channelling ACD

No, really.

I have plans to go to the LA Philharmonic's October Sibelius Festival; I'm also taking a friend to see the SF Opera's The Magic Flute that same month. So, it made sense to have the Walt Disney Concert Hall Web site open at the same time as the SF Opera Web site.

I saw the familiar face of Richard Wagner and clicked a link labeled TSFY: A Medieval Journey. This is a Toyota Symphonies for Youth concert, and the program is certainly promising: a bunch of the more popular Ring orchestral excerpts, including the Ride of Valkyries, Forest Murmers, Siegfried's Funeral March, and so on. Ideal fare for children, I thought: exciting, beautiful music.

But then I looked again, and found the following description:
This concert, with Alexander Mickelthwate leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will feature the music of Richard Wagner and a medieval fairy tale, a story of the power of friendship, imagination, and music. The young princess Violetta will team up with a fire-breathing Dragon (portrayed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic) to keep the Kingdom in perpetual springtime.

The story of the Ring isn't beyond children, if properly explained; who doesn't understand greed, love, betrayal? (I have a charming illustrated Ring published in the 1930s or 40s by the Metropolitan Opera Guild, complete with musical examples.) And what child could fail to be thrilled by the gods and monsters who populate the Ring? Why use this great music to illustrate a made-up story??

Note also: no singers. How, exactly, is the LA Phil playing a dragon without a bass in the house?